The back and forth over the facts related to the Bounty Scandal continues. Suspended New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma spoke out for the first time publicly (not including twitter), sharing his side of the story with NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport: First, I wanted to gauge your general reaction to the suspensions for the bounty program…
Vilma: What I’ve said before, there was no bounty program in place. I never paid anybody, intended to pay anybody — that’s the truth. Never sought out to injure people. That’s the truth. That’s really about it. I can’t really go into detail.
Vilma went on to say that he has yet to be shown any of the evidence that supports the NFL’s case.
Rapoport: Why didn’t you talk to Goodell and the investigators before it was concluded?
Vilma: We asked for evidence, and he wouldn’t give it to us.
Rapoport: And that was that?
Vilma: How can I defend myself when I don’t know what I’m defending against? I mean… it’s just logical things that people decided to ignore.
Rapoport: Was it the union who asked you not to cooperate?
Vilma: We asked for evidence. (Stops) Let me talk for myself. I asked for evidence, he said, ‘no.’ I said, ‘OK. How can I defend myself if I don’t know what I’m defending against?
The fact that none of the players who were accused cooperated with the league’s investigation was not lost on League Spokesman, Greg Aiello, who responded to Vilma’s claims.
“He was invited to come in with his attorney to discuss the evidence prior to any decision on discipline. He declined. He has another opportunity to do so in his appeal. The union has been shown evidence.”
At some point, the league will present at least a portion of the evidence in their possession that lead to the punishments handed down to the Saints. The sooner it happens, the quicker we can put all of this bickering behind us.